10 January 2010

Bilbao, like Seattle, is a city of mizzling rain, drizzle-and-spatter, of mild winters & thick grass. It snows perhaps two times a year — wet, clumping stuff that doesn’t stick — and stays cool all summer long. It will rain at least one hundred days out of the year, & sometimes more.

Bilbao’s rainfall is even enshrined in a local word: sirimiri. It’s roughly equivalent to chipichipi in Mexico, or a New Englander’s it’s spitting — a light, constant, almost foglike rain, barely worth noticing, that leaves you soaked through by the time you get wherever you’re going.

Anyone who lives in Bilbao for any length of time acquires an umbrella — and not just any umbrella, not just the disposable, pocket-sized variety sold to commuters outside of subways, the kind that you break just by looking at it, the shabby & bent black nylon. These are large, proper umbrellas, wood-handeled & patterned. No one stays in while it’s raining — if you did that in Bilbao, you’d never leave your house. In the public library, there is a little machine you insert your umbrella into that affixes a thin plastic sheathe, so that you don’t drip on the books. Every house has an umbrella stand by the front door. The streets fill with swaying print domes, umbrellas opening up across the city like toadstools.

One Response to “Sirimiri”

  1. Amanda Morrison Says:

    My man, this is outright gorgeous. I’m so thrilled to see you’re posting again.


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